Thomas Edison and the Purgatory Equation is the popcorn movie of novels. Reminiscent of Flash Gordon, Indiana Jones, and The Mummy (1999), Thomas Edison and his crew of adventurers spring from action-packed set piece to set piece in this historical fiction novel. Set during the first World War, Edison is joined by former soldier and scientist John Dawkins, show girl Emily Auburn, and –somehow– George Gershwin, as they try to foil a German plot to destroy America’s war efforts. Armed with Thomas Edison’s inventions and knowledge, the quartet must protect what may be his greatest invention yet: The Resurrector.
Author David Church weaves a violent and at times old-fashioned tale. It made me nostalgic for the action films of the 80’s and 90’s. The characters bounce from one fight to the next, killing German agents in spectacular fashion all along the way. Church is very good at describing the physical action, giving a gutsy chronicle of each fantastical encounter. The bad guys have appropriately evil names, like Captain Krill and Colonel Wilhelm Skinehardt. The Germans are basically mustache-twirling cartoon characters, making them the perfect fodder for Edison and his team.
This is a very fast-paced novel that is absolutely jam-packed with bloody action. While I enjoyed the characters, I felt that they only have enough depth to carry the conversation to the next battle. The role of Emily, the sassy leading lady, is loved by the main character and is lusted after by pretty much everyone else. Conversations of faith and science come up at points throughout the book but the discussions are focused on getting to the next big, exploding, thing–and that absolutely works for a book like this.
Thomas Edison and the Purgatory Equation is unadulterated fun. Thomas Edison as an action hero is something I never would have thought of, but author David Church has turned him into one that readers will love to follow. This is a historical action adventure novel that moves at breakneck speeds and never forgets to entertain the reader.
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